- Voters can run, but they can't hide from these guys.
Meet the Urosevich brothers, Bob and Todd. Their respective companies,
Diebold and ES&S, will count (using BOTH computerized ballot scanners
and touchscreen machines) about 80% of all votes cast in the upcoming U.S.
- Both ES&S and Diebold have been caught installing
uncertified software in their machines. Although there is no known certification
process that will protect against vote rigging or technical failure, it
is a requirement of most, if not all, states.
- And, according to author Bev Harris in her book, Black
Box Voting, "...one of the founders of the original ES&S (software)
system, Bob Urosevich, also oversaw development of the original software
now used by Diebold Election Systems."
- Talk about putting all our eggs in one very bogus, but
- Even if states or counties hire their own technicians
to re-program Diebold or ES&S software (or software from other companies),
experts say that permanently installed software, called firmware, still
resides inside of both electronic scanners and touchscreen machines and
is capable of manipulating votes. For those who are unfamiliar with the
term 'firmware', here's a definition by BandwidthMarket.com: "Software
that is embedded in a hardware device that allows reading and executing
the software, but does not allow modification, e.g., writing or deleting
data by an end user."
- The ability to rig an election is well within easy reach
of voting machine companies. And it does not matter if the machines are
scanners or touchscreens, or are networked or hooked up to modems.
- So, for those states and counties who think they're dodging
the bullet by not buying (or not using) the highly insecure and error-prone
touchscreen voting machines (which will process 28.9% of all votes this
year), a huge threat still remains - computerized ballot scanners. They
will count 57.6% of all votes cast, including absentee ballots.
- And don't count on recounts to save the day. In most
states, recounts of paper ballots only occur if election results are close.
The message to those who want to rig elections is, "rig them by a
lot." In some states, like California, spot checks are conducted.
But, that will not be an effective way to discover or deter vote fraud
or technical failure, particularly in a national election where one vote
per machine will probably be enough to swing a race.
- Although touchscreens have been getting the bulk of negative
publicity lately, electronic ballot scanners have a long and sordid past,
as well. Electronic scanners were first introduced into U.S. elections
in 1964, and ever since then a steady stream of reports of technical irregularities
have caught the attention of scientists, journalists, and activists, most
notably the 1988 report, Accuracy, Integrity, and Security in Computerized
Vote-Tallying, by Roy G. Saltman, and the 1992 book, Votescam: The Stealing
of America, by Jim and Ken Collier.
- Even though there are several foreign and domestic corporations
involved in the U.S. vote counting business, ES&S and Diebold clearly
dominate the field. ES&S claims that they have tabulated "56%
of the U.S. national vote for the past four presidential elections",
while a Diebold spokesperson told this writer that the company processed
about 35% of U.S. electronic vote count in 2002.
- But, is there any real difference between Diebold and
ES&S? Perhaps not.
- Bob Urosevich is currently president of Diebold. Todd
is vice president of ES&S. In 1999, American Information Systems (AIS),
purchased Business Records Corporation (BRC) to become ES&S. AIS (1980)
was formerly Data Mark (1979). Both AIS and Data Mark were founded by the
brothers Urosevich. In 2002 Diebold acquired Global Election Systems. Global
was founded 1991, which itself acquired the AccuVote system the same year.
Bob Urosevich is a past president of Global.
- Of course, most interested observers don't believe that
the Urosevich brothers are the real brains behind their respective operations.
For information on their financial backers, check out Chapter 8 of Bev's
book - blackboxvoting.com, and my webpage - ecotalk.org/VotingMachineCompanies.htm.
- Diebold and ES&S have been involved in countless
election irregularities over the years, involving both ballot scanners
and touchscreens. But, it seems that they've always managed to finesse
a happy ending for themselves. Now, it appears that at least Diebold might
be in real trouble.
- On April 22, 2004, Jim Wasserman of the Associated Press
(AP) reported, "By an 8-0 vote, the state's (California) Voting Systems
and Procedures Panel recommended that (Secretary of State) Shelley cease
the use of the machines, saying that Texas-based Diebold has performed
poorly in California and its machines malfunctioned in the state's March
2 primary election, turning away many voters in San Diego County...In addition
to the ban, panel members recommended that a secretary of state's office
report released Wednesday, detailing alleged failings of Diebold in California,
be forwarded to the state attorney general's office to consider civil and
criminal charges against the company."
- Interestingly, no one in the U.S. federal government
seems to be paying attention...as usual. There is no federal agency that
has regulatory authority or oversight of the voting machine industry -
not the Federal Election Commission (FEC), not the Department of Justice
(DOJ), and not the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The FEC doesn't
even have a complete list of all the companies that count votes in U.S.
- Once again we are witness to an 'eyes closed, hands off'
approach to protecting America. The 2004 election rests in the private
hands of the Urosevich brothers, who are financed by the far-out right
wing and top donors to the Republican Party. The Democrats are either sitting
ducks or co-conspirators. I don't know which.
- My mantra remains - Vote Paper Ballots, Ditch the Machines.
- Lynn Landes is one of the nation's leading journalists
on voting technology and democracy issues. Readers can find her articles
at <http://www.ecotalk.org/>EcoTalk.org. Lynn is a former news reporter
for <http://www.dutv.org/>DUTV and commentator for the British Broadcasting
Corporation (BBC). Contact info: <mailto:email@example.com>firstname.lastname@example.org
/ (215) 629-3553